In South Dakota, probation officers handle the cases of both juvenile and adult offenders. They are part of the court services system that is overseen by the South Dakota Unified Judicial System. This system has seven trial courts throughout South Dakota. Ninety-five court service officers act as juvenile probation officers throughout the trial court system. They are known as court services officers and are considered peace officers by the state.
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Duties of South Dakota’s Juvenile Probation Officers
Juvenile probation officers in South Dakota advise the judges in their sentencing by investigating the case of the juveniles and preparing reports to provide to the judges. For juveniles who are sentenced to probation, they provide home-based services such as:
- Assistance with self-discipline
- Referrals for community-based services
There are about 350 juveniles on probation in South Dakota in any given month. The juvenile probation officers work with these offenders to help them pay financial restitution to their victims and contribute to their communities by performing community service.
Meeting the Requirements to Become a Juvenile Probation Officer in South Dakota
Applicants for juvenile probation officer jobs in South Dakota must have a Bachelor’s degree. Since the jobs of juvenile probation officers in South Dakota involve going to potentially dangerous places in jails and the community, the officers must attend the Officer Safety Academy for a week to receive peace officer training. They will be taught techniques relevant to their work in the field such as
- Defensive training
- Scenario based training
- Tactical training
During their first year, new court services officers continue learning how to become a juvenile probation officer through training that involves technical training, motivational interview skills, and risk and needs assessment skills. These officers are required to update their skills yearly with an additional twenty hours of training a year.
In addition to traditional juvenile probation, South Dakota has a special program for high risk youths that are not considered suitable for traditional probation, but are considered safe to be managed in the community. This is the Juvenile Intensive Probation Supervision Program (JIPP).
Juvenile Intensive Officers guide youths through this four phase program. Phase I involves monitored house arrest. In the second phase, these officers closely monitor the youths by contacting them four times a week and conducting random home visits day and night. These contacts decrease to twice a week in Phase III, and in Phase IV, the youths are transferred to a regular juvenile probation officer.
Of the 5737 juvenile arrests reported in 2007 by the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office, the majority of the offenses involved alcohol consumption. Twenty five percent of the offenders had violated liquor laws, while 1.8% of the arrests were driving under the influence.